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“Reform” of workers’ compensation laws in Florida and other states has drastically cut workers’ compensation benefits that are supposed to support workers who are injured or become ill on the job, according to a recent report by National Public Radio and ProPublica.
The report, “The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation,” states that “[o]ver the past decade, state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ comp system with disastrous consequences for many of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer serious injuries at work each year.”
Florida, for instance, has cut benefits to its most severely disabled workers by 65 percent since 1994, according to the report. Since 2003, legislators in 32 other states have passed workers’ comp laws that reduce benefits or make it more difficult for those with certain injuries and diseases to qualify for them.
The report states that big businesses and insurance companies are pushing legislators to make the cuts by claiming their costs are skyrocketing.
In reality, investigators found, “employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the 1970s. And in 2013, insurers had their most profitable year in over a decade, bringing in a hefty 18 percent return.”
The cutbacks have led to a situation in which injured or ill workers can easily “plummet into poverty,” the report states.
A recent report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job,” came to the same conclusion.
“Workers often battle insurance companies for years to get the surgeries, prescriptions and basic help their doctors recommend,” according to NPR and ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
The “attack” on workers’ compensation programs portrayed in the NPR/ProPublica report makes it clear that it is more important than ever for workers disabled by an occupational injury or illness to get legal help.
Workers’ compensation laws prohibit an injured worker from suing an employer due to an on-the-job accident or occupational disease. But other parties connected to the case do not have this protection. An attorney can help to explore this option.
Third-party liability lawsuits arise when an injury or illness is caused by a non-employer such as a subcontractor or other service vendor, manufacturer or distributor of malfunctioning machinery or equipment or by a negligent driver in a vehicle accident.
Compensation obtained through a third-party claim does not replace workers’ compensation benefits. It is a separate claim paid by the third party’s insurer.
If you have suffered a workplace injury or an occupational illness in Orlando, Winter Park or anywhere else within the state of Florida, we urge you to contact Frank M. Eidson, P.A., to ensure a full investigation of your case and a diligent pursuit of all benefits and compensation you are entitled to receive.